Ford Faces Class Action over Transit Van Defect

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Santa Clara, CA: A consumer fraud class action lawsuit has been filed against Ford Motor Co, alleging Ford knew of the Transit van flex disc defect long before it issued the recall of some 402,000 Ford Transit vans.

The recall affects 2015, 2016 and 2017 models of Ford Transit vans that have a defect in the flex disc, which is a type of rubber joint connecting the transmission to the driveshaft. The defect can allegedly cause vehicle damage in addition to being a safety hazard, the complaint asserts.

All Care Transport, the lead plaintiff in the proposed class action, and its owner Joseph Pena, claim that affected vehicles are often used by small companies like home maintenance companies, day cares and patient transport services, such as All Care.

All Care Transport is a family-owned business that provides non-emergency medical transport. It owns several of the Transit vehicles. Pena states in the complaint that two of his Transit vans’ flex discs failed in November 2016. In one case, the driver lost control of the steering and breaks while driving on a freeway. “Had another vehicle been near the van at the time, a crash would have been likely,” the complaint states. The repair cost in excess of $3,200.

Following the two initial incidents, All Care had another Transit van checked out by a service technician who found that the flex disc in one of the vans was cracked. The part was replaced but roughly five months later it failed again while a driver was on a freeway entrance ramp, the complaint states. Further, a fourth Transit van in All Care’s fleet also needed a disc replaced, which cost around $350.

Pena asserts that All Care lost business as a result of the vehicles needing to be repaired from the flex disc defect.

According to Ford’s recall announcement, the flex disc cracks after about 30,000 miles, possibly causing the driveshaft to separate from the transmission. The cracking can result in a loss of power while driving or the unintended movement of parked vehicles not anchored by a parking brake. Such separation can also damage surrounding components, including brakes and fuel lines.

The plaintiff claims that Ford’s recall notice doesn’t indicate that the automaker has a permanent fix for the defect, as it recommends vehicle owners repair the disc every 30,000 miles. Further, the notice does not indicate any plans by Ford to reimburse customers such as All Care for lost business opportunities from disc-related repairs.

“In short, “ the complaint states, “as the safety recall notice makes clear, Ford’s recall fails to fix the underlying problem and falls well short of fully compensating plaintiffs and class members for the harm caused by the defective class vehicles.”

Pena and All Care assert that Ford had knowledge of the defect as early as 2014, based on vehicle evaluations and testing, field data, replacement part sales data and consumer complaints made directly to Ford and collected by federal regulators at the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The plaintiffs state in the proposed class action: “Yet despite this knowledge, Ford failed to disclose and actively concealed the defect from class members and the public, and continued to market and advertise the class vehicles as ‘tough,’ ‘safe,’ ‘durable’ vehicles ‘designed to do its job all day, every day and for many years to come,’ which they are not.”

“All Care Transport expected the class vehicles to be of good and merchantable quality and not defective,” the complaint states. “It had no reason to know of, or expect, that the vehicles were equipped with a defective flex disc that would catastrophically and dangerously fail, nor was it aware from any source prior to purchase of the unexpected, extraordinary and costly repairs the defect would cause them to incur.”

The proposed class includes anyone who leased or purchased a 2015-2017 Transit in California for purposes other than personal or household use.

The plaintiffs are represented by Jonathan D. Selbin, Annika K. Martin and Mark P. Chalos of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, Marc Godino of Glancy Prongay & Murray LLP and Jasper Ward of Jones Ward PLC.

The case is All Care Transport LLC et al. v. Ford Motor Company, case number 5:17-cv-01390, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

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